An overview of the entertainment features of the Archos PMA430 PDA

In the wake of the success of personal video recorders and audio players, Archos continues to expand its lineup. Recently, a long-awaited novelty appeared in Russia, the first device in the new line of "personal media assistants", Archos PMA430. At its core, the device is a PDA, but it differs significantly from all devices present on the market today. Structurally, the PMA430 is based on the AV series devices, which have a large full-color LCD display, a built-in hard drive with a capacity of 20 to 100 GB and ample opportunities for recording and playing digital video and audio. When creating a "personal media assistant", all the best that was in the AV-series models, including a capacious hard drive, was combined with a 150 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 5910 processor and a Linux-based Qtopia operating system. In addition, the new device is equipped with 64 MB of RAM and LCD touch screen. Separately, it is worth noting the built-in 802.11b standard Wi-Fi wireless adapter.

Such a multifunctional device deserves special attention, so we decided to publish two reviews related to it at once. The first will describe all the entertainment features, including working with audio, video, text, images, as well as game functions. The second review will focus on the operating system, device performance in general, applications, networking and other PDA functions.

Body and design

Due to the fact that the PMA 430 was based on the AV-series models, in particular, the AV420 with a replaceable battery, it would be fair to give here a description from the Archos AV420 review - the appearance and body design of these two devices coincide to the smallest detail.< /p>

The "Helper" is made in a rectangular metal case with plastic inserts that perform protective and decorative functions. Inserts are found at the corners of the case and on the top and bottom side panels. The color scheme is strict, but stylish, which should be the case for a product of this price, which is largely focused on a fairly adult audience. The appearance of the front panel is enlivened by silver controls and indicator lights, the design of the device as a whole is well balanced and carefully thought out. Ergonomics does not suffer either, the handset sits securely in the hands, the fingers just lie on the buttons without blocking the speaker holes. The quality of workmanship, assembly and fitting of parts is not satisfactory, the case is felt as a whole, does not creak and has no backlash. All slots at the joints between the body panels have the same small width.

On the right side panel there are connectors for connecting USB, a power adapter/charger, as well as a multi-purpose connector combined with a socket for connecting Ford Transit Connect 2014 3.5mm minijack headphones. In addition, there is also a USB Host connector.

In general, the design of the device is successful, its creators were able to give the AV420, and then the PMA 430, a moderate amount of conservatism and solidity, while maintaining a stylish and modern appearance.

Management

The PMA 430 inherits a simple and intuitive control scheme honed on various Archos devices. To the right of the display on the front panel of the device is a four-position key with a round selection confirmation button inscribed in it. With its help, all navigation through the menu, switching between tracks, videos and photos, as well as rewinding are carried out.In the immediate vicinity of this key there is a small elongated button, which is responsible for canceling the execution of any process, raising one menu level and turning off the device. A little lower are three function keys, two of which are combined into a small rocker. Their purpose varies depending on what process is being performed by the device at the current time. Their functions include bringing up and hiding various on-screen menus, switching the playback speed, and starting and stopping recording. Finally, on the top side panel, just under the index finger of the right hand, there is a button for switching the signal output from the built-in display to an external one and vice versa. Practically in the upper right corner there are two light indicators: one of them indicates the operation of the hard drive, the second informs about the device on/off. The third indicator lurks under the four-position key and lights up while the battery is charging.

Do not forget about the presence of a touch screen - a large proportion of manipulations falls on it. The specifics of control using the display will be described in more detail in the corresponding section. The management organization of the PMA 430 is commendable. It is convenient to work with the device, all the buttons are in the places where you expect to find them, the clicks are fixed clearly, the percentage of false positives is within the acceptable range.

Display

The PMA430 has a 3.5-inch color touchscreen display. Its resolution is 320x240 pixels, and the maximum number of displayed colors reaches 262,000. The display's quality characteristics match those of the company's video recorders - most likely, the display matrices are identical, and only touch input is added to RMA430. The image on the display is bright and contrasting, it is possible to smoothly adjust the brightness on a long scale. Unfortunately, contrast and other image parameters are not adjustable, the user can only adjust the brightness and focus of the display. The last setting in English is called LCD Stability and allows you to manually correct some "jitter" of the vertical lines of the pixels. In this case, the user can choose one of about two hundred values, which indicates a serious level of the device's video controller. The sensitivity of the display is at an average level, control with a stylus does not cause any difficulties. You can read more about this aspect of the RMA430 in the second part of the review.

Cradle and remote control

The PMA430 comes with a special cradle stand. With its help, external sources and signal receivers are connected to the device. Six cables with RCA connectors (tulips) for incoming and outgoing audio and video signals, as well as an S-Video cable are built right into the cradle. The cradle itself is connected to the RMA430 using a universal connector, which contains, in addition to contacts for transmitting audio and video, a power connector. The cradle also has connectors for connecting a keyboard and an external infrared receiver. The picture is completed by the built-in receiver of signals from the infrared remote control.

The PMA430 remote control completely repeats that of the "progenitor", AV420. It has a classic ergonomic shape and fits comfortably in the hand. The body of the remote control is made of smooth gray plastic, the build quality is up to par and corresponds to the general level of the device. All keys of the device are duplicated on the remote control and there are many additional buttons: from nine digital ones to mute. Having a remote control makes it much easier to watch movies on an external display.

The device is powered by a removable lithium-ion battery. Information about its capacity is not available. Due to the high energy consumption of the device and the corresponding battery capacity, charging is carried out from the mains using a charger; USB charging is not possible. The manufacturer's claimed video playback time is about 4 hours, audio - about 9.5 hours. The real figures are very close to the declared figures.

Video

The device provides video viewing on the built-in and external displays with a resolution of up to 704 x 480 pixels and a frequency of up to 30 frames per second. Most often, the image looks better on the built-in display - its greater compliance with the resolution of most video files affects it. Working with video is built on the same principle as in the AV series, playback is carried out in full screen mode or in a window, there is a scroll bar, indicators of elapsed and remaining time. Navigation inside the video file is carried out using a four-way key or a stylus, the first option is a little slower, but from the point of view of convenience, it seems to be more preferable.

The PMA430 processor easily decodes a 640 x 480 resolution video stream at a bit rate of 1500 Kbps - all complex scenes are played without the slightest “braking”.

Unfortunately, the best features of the AV-series have not been fully transferred to the PMA430. Even with the latest firmware, the device is quite finicky when it comes to playing files encoded with various settings. Officially РМА430 supports only MPEG 4 SP (Simple Profile), so the device does not play files encoded with other settings yet. Most likely, the problem will be solved using applications from third-party developers (do not forget about the openness of the operating system and the availability of an SDK), or using software updates directly from the manufacturer.

Video recording is carried out from any source using the included cradle. Recall that it has seven connectors, three RCA (tulips) for video and two stereo channels for recording and outputting images and sound, as well as a composite connector for recording high-quality video - accordingly, multi-channel audio recording is not available to users.

Audio is recorded from the built-in microphone. The recorded audio files are in WAV (PCM or ADPCM) format. The sampling frequency varies depending on the wishes of the user from 16 to 48 kHz. The built-in microphone has good sensitivity, it can be recommended for recording speech at a distance of up to 10 meters from the speaker.

Photo and text

The machine is equipped with applications for viewing JPEG , PNG, GIF and BMP image formats, as well as TXT text files and PDF documents. In some cases, DOC documents can be viewed without formatting. In the case of PDF, all embedded images are supported. The quality of the picture is determined by the overall level of the display and is at a high level. Full screen display and slideshow are supported.

If the device has a powerful processor and video subsystem, the idea of ​​giving it gaming functionality suggests itself. PMA430 is equipped with several pre-installed games and supports the Mophun platform. Pre-installed games are mostly logical and do not please with dynamic gameplay. But many Mophun games include elements of three-dimensional graphics and are much more dynamic.The RMA430 comes pre-installed with several demo versions of games, the full versions of which can be purchased on the manufacturer's website. The device's control scheme is well suited for games, the four-position key resembles a prefixed "cross". Unfortunately, you can only control the fingers of one hand, which does not allow you to use several functions at once. Game developers take this factor into account to the best of their ability, however, for example, one of the most interesting games, Rally Contest, is not very convenient to play due to the need to simultaneously drive a car and press the “accelerator pedal”.

Archos PMA430 Specifications

Hard disk capacity: 30 GB
Bus: USB 2.0
Video playback: MPEG-4 SP with MP3 or ADPCM near DVD quality stereo sound up to 704x480 @ 30 fps. (MTSC), 720x576 @ 25 f/s (PAL), AVI.
Video recording: MPEG-4 SP, MP3 audio track, resolution up to 512 x 384 pixels, frame rate up to 30 fps.
Audio playback: MP3, WMA, WAV formats, bitrate 32-320 kbps, variable bitrate.
Audio recording: from built-in microphone or line input in WAV format (PCM/ADPCM)
Image formats: JPEG, BMP
< strong>Display: touchscreen, resolution 320 x 240 pixels, up to 262,000 colors, diagonal 3.5 inches
Dimensions: 125 x 78 x 20 mm
Weight: 280 g

An overview of the entertainment features of the Archos PMA430 PDA

In the wake of the success of personal video recorders and audio players, Archos continues to expand its lineup. Recently, a long-awaited novelty appeared in Russia, the first device in the new line of "personal media assistants", Archos PMA430. At its core, the device is a PDA, but it differs significantly from all devices present on the market today. Structurally, the PMA430 is based on the AV series devices, which have a large full-color LCD display, a built-in hard drive with a capacity of 20 to 100 GB and ample opportunities for recording and playing digital video and audio.When creating a "personal media assistant", all the best that was in the AV-series models, including a capacious hard drive, was combined with a 150 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 5910 processor and a Linux-based Qtopia operating system. In addition, the new device is equipped with 64 MB of RAM and LCD touch screen. Separately, it is worth noting the built-in 802.11b standard Wi-Fi wireless adapter.

Such a multifunctional device deserves special attention, so we decided to publish two reviews related to it at once. The first will describe all the entertainment features, including working with audio, video, text, images, as well as game functions. The second review will focus on the operating system, device performance in general, applications, networking and other PDA functions.

Body and design

Due to the fact that the PMA 430 was based on the AV-series models, in particular, the AV420 with a replaceable battery, it would be fair to give here a description from the Archos AV420 review - the appearance and body design of these two devices coincide to the smallest detail.< /p>

The "Helper" is made in a rectangular metal case with plastic inserts that perform protective and decorative functions. Inserts are found at the corners of the case and on the top and bottom side panels. The color scheme is strict, but stylish, which should be the case for a product of this price, which is largely focused on a fairly adult audience. The appearance of the front panel is enlivened by silver controls and indicator lights, the design of the device as a whole is well balanced and carefully thought out. Ergonomics does not suffer either, the handset sits securely in the hands, the fingers just lie on the buttons without blocking the speaker holes. The quality of workmanship, assembly and fitting of parts is not satisfactory, the case is felt as a whole, does not creak and has no backlash. All slots at the joints between the body panels have the same small width.

On the right side panel there are connectors for connecting USB, a power adapter/charger, as well as a multi-purpose connector combined with a socket for connecting Ford Transit Connect 2014 3.5mm minijack headphones. In addition, there is also a USB Host connector.

In general, the design of the device is successful, its creators were able to give the AV420, and then the PMA 430, a moderate amount of conservatism and solidity, while maintaining a stylish and modern appearance.

Management

The PMA 430 inherits a simple and intuitive control scheme honed on various Archos devices. To the right of the display on the front panel of the device is a four-position key with a round selection confirmation button inscribed in it. With its help, all navigation through the menu, switching between tracks, videos and photos, as well as rewinding are carried out.In the immediate vicinity of this key there is a small elongated button, which is responsible for canceling the execution of any process, raising one menu level and turning off the device. A little lower are three function keys, two of which are combined into a small rocker. Their purpose varies depending on what process is being performed by the device at the current time. Their functions include bringing up and hiding various on-screen menus, switching the playback speed, and starting and stopping recording. Finally, on the top side panel, just under the index finger of the right hand, there is a button for switching the signal output from the built-in display to an external one and vice versa. Practically in the upper right corner there are two light indicators: one of them indicates the operation of the hard drive, the second informs about the device on/off. The third indicator lurks under the four-position key and lights up while the battery is charging.

Cradle and remote control

PMA430 comes with a special cradle stand. With its help, external sources and signal receivers are connected to the device. Six cables with RCA connectors (tulips) for incoming and outgoing audio and video signals, as well as an S-Video cable are built right into the cradle. The cradle itself is connected to the RMA430 using a universal connector, which contains, in addition to contacts for transmitting audio and video, a power connector. The cradle also has connectors for connecting a keyboard and an external infrared receiver. The picture is completed by the built-in receiver of signals from the infrared remote control.

The PMA430 remote control completely repeats that of the "progenitor", AV420. It has a classic ergonomic shape and fits comfortably in the hand. The body of the remote control is made of smooth gray plastic, the build quality is up to par and corresponds to the general level of the device. All keys of the device are duplicated on the remote control and there are many additional buttons: from nine digital ones to mute. Having a remote control makes it much easier to watch movies on an external display.

Power and PC connection

The machine connects to a computer via high-speed USB 2.0. The maximum data transfer rate theoretically reaches 480 Mbit / s and is really limited only by the speed of the built-in hard drive RMA430. The hard disk of the device is manufactured by Hitachi, as evidenced by the sticker on the rear panel.

The disk model is HTC42603 OG7AT00, as it is determined by the system. The speed of its work was not measured separately - everything here depends too much on the type of task being performed, although large files are copied at a speed of about 4-5 MB per second. Opening video files of several hundred megabytes takes 5-7 seconds, the speed of writing files when transferred via the bus or from the recording buffer also does not cause any complaints. The performance of the device in terms of working with audio and video applications can be assessed as sufficient and fully consistent with the expected. The PMA430 hard drive operates almost silently, the sound of the heads working can be heard during the initial load or when opening a large file. The RMA430 implements the proprietary ARClibrary file management system. Each time the machine is booted, the hard drive is scanned for new files, and once found, all information is indexed for easy retrieval. The scanning and indexing procedure takes just a few seconds and does not cause any inconvenience. The main advantage of the system is the ability to create folders, rename, transfer and edit files without using a personal computer.

The device is powered by a removable lithium-ion battery. Information about its capacity is not available. Due to the high energy consumption of the device and the corresponding battery capacity, charging is carried out from the mains using a charger; USB charging is not possible. The manufacturer's claimed video playback time is about 4 hours, audio - about 9.5 hours. The real figures are very close to the declared figures.

Video

The device provides video viewing on the built-in and external displays with a resolution of up to 704 x 480 pixels and a frequency of up to 30 frames per second. Most often, the image looks better on the built-in display - its greater compliance with the resolution of most video files affects it. Working with video is built on the same principle as in the AV series, playback is carried out in full screen mode or in a window, there is a scroll bar, indicators of elapsed and remaining time. Navigation inside the video file is carried out using a four-way key or a stylus, the first option is a little slower, but from the point of view of convenience, it seems to be more preferable.

The PMA430 processor easily decodes a 640 x 480 resolution video stream at a bit rate of 1500 Kbps - all complex scenes are played without the slightest “braking”.

Unfortunately, the best features of the AV-series have not been fully transferred to the PMA430. Even with the latest firmware, the device is quite finicky when it comes to playing files encoded with various settings. Officially РМА430 supports only MPEG 4 SP (Simple Profile), so the device does not play files encoded with other settings yet. Most likely, the problem will be solved using applications from third-party developers (do not forget about the openness of the operating system and the availability of an SDK), or using software updates directly from the manufacturer.

Video recording is carried out from any source using the included cradle. Recall that it has seven connectors, three RCA (tulips) for video and two stereo channels for recording and outputting images and sound, as well as a composite connector for recording high-quality video - accordingly, multi-channel audio recording is not available to users.

Recording settings include geometric video format (16:9, 4:3, 2.35), video stream width (500-2500 kbps), TV format (PAL or NTSC), resolution (320 x 240 or 512 x 386 pixels) and audio sampling rate (32 or 48 kHz). If desired, you can separately adjust the brightness, contrast and color saturation. The results of recording from high-quality sources are at a high level and do not cause any complaints. All characteristics of AV-series recorders are kept in the device against the background of seriously expanded functionality, which is a significant plus. According to testers posted on the Web, hardware video encoding is carried out by the Micronas VPX3226 chip. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to open the case of the device and see for ourselves.

Audio

Archos products have a well-deserved reputation for sound quality, and audio playback is an integral feature of the PMA430. The device does not drop the name of the company: the sound is very worthy and by ear it completely coincides with that of the company's video devices. Music and movie soundtracks are reproduced with excellent quality over the entire frequency range, there are no extraneous noises, and distortions at maximum volume are not audible. The user has the ability to manually adjust the sound settings for five bands or select one of the five genre presets. Together, this makes it easy to pick up the sound according to personal preferences. The interface of the audio player is made taking into account the control of the stylus, a large display allows you to display a lot of information. During playback, you can switch repeat modes, adjust the equalizer and fully navigate through the contents of the disc. A multitasking operating system, worthy of a separate review, allows you to simultaneously listen to music and work in other applications without losing performance.

Audio is recorded from the built-in microphone. The recorded audio files are in WAV (PCM or ADPCM) format. The sampling frequency varies depending on the wishes of the user from 16 to 48 kHz. The built-in microphone has good sensitivity, it can be recommended for recording speech at a distance of up to 10 meters from the speaker.

Photo and text

The machine is equipped with applications for viewing JPEG , PNG, GIF and BMP image formats, as well as TXT text files and PDF documents. In some cases, DOC documents can be viewed without formatting. In the case of PDF, all embedded images are supported. The quality of the picture is determined by the overall level of the display and is at a high level. Full screen display and slideshow are supported.

If the device has a powerful processor and video subsystem, the idea of ​​giving it gaming functionality suggests itself. PMA430 is equipped with several pre-installed games and supports the Mophun platform. Pre-installed games are mostly logical and do not please with dynamic gameplay. But many Mophun games include elements of three-dimensional graphics and are much more dynamic.The RMA430 comes pre-installed with several demo versions of games, the full versions of which can be purchased on the manufacturer's website. The device's control scheme is well suited for games, the four-position key resembles a prefixed "cross". Unfortunately, you can only control the fingers of one hand, which does not allow you to use several functions at once. Game developers take this factor into account to the best of their ability, however, for example, one of the most interesting games, Rally Contest, is not very convenient to play due to the need to simultaneously drive a car and press the “accelerator pedal”.

Conclusions and impressions

When it comes to entertainment features, the Archos Personal Media Assistant is almost identical to its successful predecessors, the AV series recorders. A more powerful processor made it possible to increase the maximum video resolution and significantly expand the gaming functionality by adding 3D graphics. Tools for working with PDF-files allow you to comfortably read e-books of the appropriate format. The main changes affected the interface: the standard interface embodied in most Archos devices was replaced by the Linux Qtopia operating system. Its implementation on the Archos PMA430 will be discussed in the second part of the review, and the first part can be summarized with a look into the future. It is quite possible that the RMA430 is the first sign of a new class of devices that combines a capacious hard disk, the widest possibilities for working with audio and video, as well as the functions of a handheld computer. Perhaps in a few years, such devices will become companions of those who today use separate PDAs, personal audio players and stationary video recorders. Given the ability to work in a wireless network and the presence of a touch screen, with an increase in screen resolution, descendants of the PMA430 will be able to combine PDAs, Tablet PCs and micro-notebooks.

Archos PMA430 Specifications

Hard disk capacity: 30 GB
Bus: USB 2.0
Video playback: MPEG-4 SP with MP3 or ADPCM near DVD quality stereo sound up to 704x480 @ 30 fps. (MTSC), 720x576 @ 25 f/s (PAL), AVI.
Video recording: MPEG-4 SP, MP3 audio track, resolution up to 512 x 384 pixels, frame rate up to 30 fps.
Audio playback: MP3, WMA, WAV formats, bitrate 32-320 kbps, variable bitrate.
Audio recording: from built-in microphone or line input in WAV format (PCM/ADPCM)
Image formats: JPEG, BMP
< strong>Display: touchscreen, resolution 320 x 240 pixels, up to 262,000 colors, diagonal 3.5 inches
Dimensions: 125 x 78 x 20 mm
Weight: 280 g

An overview of the entertainment features of the Archos PMA430 PDA

In the wake of the success of personal video recorders and audio players, Archos continues to expand its lineup. Recently, a long-awaited novelty appeared in Russia, the first device in the new line of "personal media assistants", Archos PMA430. At its core, the device is a PDA, but it differs significantly from all devices present on the market today. Structurally, the PMA430 is based on the AV series devices, which have a large full-color LCD display, a built-in hard drive with a capacity of 20 to 100 GB and ample opportunities for recording and playing digital video and audio.When creating a "personal media assistant", all the best that was in the AV-series models, including a capacious hard drive, was combined with a 150 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 5910 processor and a Linux-based Qtopia operating system. In addition, the new device is equipped with 64 MB of RAM and LCD touch screen. Separately, it is worth noting the built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi wireless adapter.

Such a multifunctional device deserves special attention, so we decided to publish two reviews related to it at once. The first will describe all the entertainment features, including working with audio, video, text, images, as well as game functions. The second review will focus on the operating system, device performance in general, applications, networking and other PDA functions.

Body and design

Due to the fact that the PMA 430 was based on the AV-series models, in particular, the AV420 with a replaceable battery, it would be fair to give here a description from the Archos AV420 review - the appearance and body design of these two devices coincide to the smallest detail.< /p>

The "Helper" is made in a rectangular metal case with plastic inserts that perform protective and decorative functions. Inserts are found at the corners of the case and on the top and bottom side panels. The color scheme is strict, but stylish, which should be the case for a product of this price, which is largely focused on a fairly adult audience. The appearance of the front panel is enlivened by silver controls and indicator lights, the design of the device as a whole is well balanced and carefully thought out. Ergonomics does not suffer either, the handset sits securely in the hands, the fingers just lie on the buttons without blocking the speaker holes. The quality of workmanship, assembly and fitting of parts is not satisfactory, the case is felt as a whole, does not creak and has no backlash. All slots at the joints between the body panels have the same small width.

On the right side panel there are connectors for connecting USB, a power adapter/charger, as well as a multi-purpose connector combined with a socket for connecting Ford Transit Connect 2014 3.5mm minijack headphones. In addition, there is also a USB Host connector.

In general, the design of the device is successful, its creators were able to give the AV420, and then the PMA 430, a moderate amount of conservatism and solidity, while maintaining a stylish and modern appearance.

Management

The PMA 430 inherits a simple and intuitive control scheme honed on various Archos devices. To the right of the display on the front panel of the device is a four-position key with a round selection confirmation button inscribed in it. With its help, all navigation through the menu, switching between tracks, videos and photos, as well as rewinding are carried out.In the immediate vicinity of this key there is a small elongated button, which is responsible for canceling the execution of any process, raising one menu level and turning off the device. A little lower are three function keys, two of which are combined into a small rocker. Their purpose varies depending on what process is being performed by the device at the current time. Their functions include bringing up and hiding various on-screen menus, switching the playback speed, and starting and stopping recording. Finally, on the top side panel, just under the index finger of the right hand, there is a button for switching the signal output from the built-in display to an external one and vice versa. Practically in the upper right corner there are two light indicators: one of them indicates the operation of the hard drive, the second informs about the device on/off. The third indicator lurks under the four-position key and lights up while the battery is charging.

Do not forget about the presence of a touch screen - a large proportion of manipulations falls on it. The specifics of control using the display will be described in more detail in the corresponding section. The management organization of the PMA 430 is commendable. It is convenient to work with the device, all the buttons are in the places where you expect to find them, the clicks are fixed clearly, the percentage of false positives is within the acceptable range.

Display

The PMA430 has a 3.5-inch color touchscreen display. Its resolution is 320x240 pixels, and the maximum number of displayed colors reaches 262,000. The display's quality characteristics match those of the company's video recorders - most likely, the display matrices are identical, and only touch input is added to RMA430. The image on the display is bright and contrasting, it is possible to smoothly adjust the brightness on a long scale. Unfortunately, contrast and other image parameters are not adjustable, the user can only adjust the brightness and focus of the display. The last setting in English is called LCD Stability and allows you to manually correct some "jitter" of the vertical lines of the pixels. In this case, the user can choose one of about two hundred values, which indicates a serious level of the device's video controller. The sensitivity of the display is at an average level, control with a stylus does not cause any difficulties. You can read more about this aspect of the RMA430 in the second part of the review.

Cradle and remote control

PMA430 comes with a special cradle stand. With its help, external sources and signal receivers are connected to the device. Six cables with RCA connectors (tulips) for incoming and outgoing audio and video signals, as well as an S-Video cable are built right into the cradle. The cradle itself is connected to the RMA430 using a universal connector, which contains, in addition to contacts for transmitting audio and video, a power connector. The cradle also has connectors for connecting a keyboard and an external infrared receiver. The picture is completed by the built-in receiver of signals from the infrared remote control.

The PMA430 remote control completely repeats that of the "progenitor", AV420. It has a classic ergonomic shape and fits comfortably in the hand. The body of the remote control is made of smooth gray plastic, the build quality is up to par and corresponds to the general level of the device. All keys of the device are duplicated on the remote control and there are many additional buttons: from nine digital ones to mute. Having a remote control makes it much easier to watch movies on an external display.

Power and PC connection

The machine connects to a computer via high-speed USB 2.0. The maximum data transfer rate theoretically reaches 480 Mbit / s and is really limited only by the speed of the built-in hard drive PMA430. The hard disk of the device is manufactured by Hitachi, as indicated by the sticker on the rear panel.

The disk model is HTC42603 OG7AT00, as it is determined by the system. The speed of its work was not measured separately - everything here depends too much on the type of task being performed, although large files are copied at a speed of about 4-5 MB per second. Opening video files of several hundred megabytes takes 5-7 seconds, the speed of writing files when transferred via the bus or from the recording buffer also does not cause any complaints. The performance of the device in terms of working with audio and video applications can be assessed as sufficient and fully consistent with the expected. The PMA430 hard drive operates almost silently, the sound of the heads working can be heard during the initial load or when opening a large file. The PMA430 implements the proprietary ARClibrary file management system. Each time the machine is booted, the hard drive is scanned for new files, and once found, all information is indexed for easy retrieval. The scanning and indexing procedure takes just a few seconds and does not cause any inconvenience. The main advantage of the system is the ability to create folders, rename, transfer and edit files without using a personal computer.

The device is powered by a removable lithium-ion battery. Information about its capacity is not available. Due to the high energy consumption of the device and the corresponding battery capacity, charging is carried out from the mains using a charger; USB charging is not possible. The manufacturer's claimed video playback time is about 4 hours, audio - about 9.5 hours. The real figures are very close to the declared figures.

Video

The device provides video viewing on the built-in and external displays with a resolution of up to 704 x 480 pixels and a frequency of up to 30 frames per second. Most often, the image looks better on the built-in display - its greater compliance with the resolution of most video files affects it. Working with video is built on the same principle as in the AV series, playback is carried out in full screen mode or in a window, there is a scroll bar, indicators of elapsed and remaining time. Navigation inside the video file is carried out using a four-way key or a stylus, the first option is a little slower, but from the point of view of convenience, it seems to be more preferable.

Recording settings include geometric video format (16:9, 4:3, 2.35), video stream width (500-2500 kbps), TV format (PAL or NTSC), resolution (320 x 240 or 512 x 386 pixels) and audio sampling rate (32 or 48 kHz). If desired, you can separately adjust the brightness, contrast and color saturation. The results of recording from high-quality sources are at a high level and do not cause any complaints. All characteristics of AV-series recorders are kept in the device against the background of seriously expanded functionality, which is a significant plus. According to testers posted on the Web, hardware video encoding is carried out by the Micronas VPX3226 chip. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to open the case of the device and see for ourselves.

Audio

Archos products have a well-deserved reputation for sound quality, and audio playback is an integral feature of the PMA430. The device does not drop the name of the company: the sound is very worthy and by ear it completely coincides with that of the company's video devices. Music and movie soundtracks are reproduced with excellent quality over the entire frequency range, there are no extraneous noises, and distortions at maximum volume are not audible. The user has the ability to manually adjust the sound settings for five bands or select one of the five genre presets. Together, this makes it easy to pick up the sound according to personal preferences. The interface of the audio player is made taking into account the control of the stylus, a large display allows you to display a lot of information. During playback, you can switch repeat modes, adjust the equalizer and fully navigate through the contents of the disc. A multitasking operating system, worthy of a separate review, allows you to simultaneously listen to music and work in other applications without losing performance.

Conclusions and impressions

When it comes to entertainment features, the Archos Personal Media Assistant is almost identical to its successful predecessors, the AV series recorders. A more powerful processor made it possible to increase the maximum video resolution and significantly expand the gaming functionality by adding 3D graphics. Tools for working with PDF-files allow you to comfortably read e-books of the appropriate format. The main changes affected the interface: the standard interface embodied in most Archos devices was replaced by the Linux Qtopia operating system. Its implementation on the Archos PMA430 will be discussed in the second part of the review, and the first part can be summarized with a look into the future. It is quite possible that RMA430 is the "first sign" of a new class of devices that combines a capacious hard disk, the widest possibilities for working with audio and video, as well as the functions of a handheld computer. Perhaps in a few years, such devices will become companions of those who today use separate PDAs, personal audio players and stationary video recorders. Given the ability to work in a wireless network and the presence of a touch screen, with an increase in screen resolution, descendants of the PMA430 will be able to combine PDAs, Tablet PCs and micro-notebooks.

Archos PMA430 Specifications

Hard disk capacity: 30 GB
Bus: USB 2.0
Video playback: MPEG-4 SP with MP3 or ADPCM near DVD quality stereo sound up to 704x480 @ 30 fps. (MTSC), 720x576 @ 25 f/s (PAL), AVI.
Video recording: MPEG-4 SP, MP3 audio track, resolution up to 512 x 384 pixels, frame rate up to 30 fps.
Audio playback: MP3, WMA, WAV formats, bitrate 32-320 kbps, variable bitrate.
Audio recording: from built-in microphone or line input in WAV format (PCM/ADPCM)
Image formats: JPEG, BMP
< strong>Display: touchscreen, resolution 320 x 240 pixels, up to 262,000 colors, diagonal 3.5 inches
Dimensions: 125 x 78 x 20 mm
Weight: 280 g

An overview of the entertainment features of the Archos PMA430 PDA

In the wake of the success of personal video recorders and audio players, Archos continues to expand its lineup. Recently, a long-awaited novelty appeared in Russia, the first device in the new line of "personal media assistants", Archos PMA430. At its core, the device is a PDA, but it differs significantly from all devices present on the market today. Structurally, the PMA430 is based on the AV series devices, which have a large full-color LCD display, a built-in hard drive with a capacity of 20 to 100 GB and ample opportunities for recording and playing digital video and audio.When creating a "personal media assistant", all the best that was in the AV-series models, including a capacious hard drive, was combined with a 150 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 5910 processor and a Linux-based Qtopia operating system. In addition, the new device is equipped with 64 MB of RAM and LCD touch screen. Separately, it is worth noting the built-in 802.11b standard Wi-Fi wireless adapter.

Such a multifunctional device deserves special attention, so we decided to publish two reviews related to it at once. The first will describe all the entertainment features, including working with audio, video, text, images, as well as game functions. The second review will focus on the operating system, device performance in general, applications, networking and other PDA functions.

Body and design

Due to the fact that the PMA 430 was based on the AV-series models, in particular, the AV420 with a replaceable battery, it would be fair to give here a description from the Archos AV420 review - the appearance and body design of these two devices coincide to the smallest detail.< /p>

The "Helper" is made in a rectangular metal case with plastic inserts that perform protective and decorative functions. Inserts are found at the corners of the case and on the top and bottom side panels. The color scheme is strict, but stylish, which should be the case for a product of this price, which is largely focused on a fairly adult audience. The appearance of the front panel is enlivened by silver controls and indicator lights, the design of the device as a whole is well balanced and carefully thought out. Ergonomics does not suffer either, the handset sits securely in the hands, the fingers just lie on the buttons without blocking the speaker holes. The quality of workmanship, assembly and fitting of parts is not satisfactory, the case is felt as a whole, does not creak and has no backlash. All slots at the joints between the body panels have the same small width.

On the right side panel there are connectors for connecting USB, a power adapter/charger, and a multi-purpose connector combined with a jack for connecting Ford Transit Connect 2014 3.5 mm minijack headphones. In addition, there is also a USB Host connector.

On the right side panel there are connectors for connecting USB, AC adapter / charger, as well as a multi-purpose connector, combined with a socket for connecting Ford Transit Connect 2014 Ford Transit Connect 2014 3.5 mm minijack headphones. In addition, there is also a USB Host connector.

In general, the design of the device is successful, its creators were able to give the AV420, and then the PMA 430, a moderate amount of conservatism and solidity, while maintaining a stylish and modern appearance.

Management

The PMA 430 inherits a simple and intuitive control scheme honed on various Archos devices. To the right of the display on the front panel of the device is a four-position key with a round selection confirmation button inscribed in it. With its help, all navigation through the menu, switching between tracks, videos and photos, as well as rewinding are carried out. In the immediate vicinity of this key there is a small elongated button, which is responsible for canceling the execution of any process, raising one menu level and turning off the device. A little lower are three function keys, two of which are combined into a small rocker.Their purpose varies depending on what process is being performed by the device at the current time. Their functions include bringing up and hiding various on-screen menus, switching the playback speed, and starting and stopping recording. Finally, on the top side panel, just under the index finger of the right hand, there is a button for switching the signal output from the built-in display to an external one and vice versa. Practically in the upper right corner there are two light indicators: one of them indicates the operation of the hard drive, the second informs about the device on/off. The third indicator lurks under the four-position key and lights up while the battery is charging.

Do not forget about the presence of a touch screen - a large proportion of manipulations falls on it. The specifics of control using the display will be described in more detail in the corresponding section. The management organization of the PMA 430 is commendable. It is convenient to work with the device, all the buttons are in the places where you expect to find them, the clicks are fixed clearly, the percentage of false positives is within the acceptable range.

Display

The PMA430 has a 3.5-inch color touchscreen display. Its resolution is 320x240 pixels, and the maximum number of displayed colors reaches 262,000. The display's quality characteristics match those of the company's video recorders - most likely, the display matrices are identical, and only touch input is added to RMA430. The image on the display is bright and contrasting, it is possible to smoothly adjust the brightness on a long scale. Unfortunately, contrast and other image parameters are not adjustable, the user can only adjust the brightness and focus of the display. The last setting in English is called LCD Stability and allows you to manually correct some "jitter" of the vertical lines of the pixels. In this case, the user can choose one of about two hundred values, which indicates a serious level of the device's video controller. The sensitivity of the display is at an average level, control with a stylus does not cause any difficulties. You can read more about this aspect of the RMA430 in the second part of the review.

Cradle and remote control

PMA430 comes with a special cradle stand. With its help, external sources and signal receivers are connected to the device. Six cables with RCA connectors (tulips) for incoming and outgoing audio and video signals, as well as an S-Video cable are built right into the cradle. The cradle itself is connected to the RMA430 using a universal connector, which contains, in addition to contacts for transmitting audio and video, a power connector. The cradle also has connectors for connecting a keyboard and an external infrared receiver. The picture is completed by the built-in receiver of signals from the infrared remote control.

The PMA430 remote control completely repeats that of the "progenitor", AV420. It has a classic ergonomic shape and fits comfortably in the hand. The body of the remote control is made of smooth gray plastic, the build quality is up to par and corresponds to the general level of the device. All keys of the device are duplicated on the remote control and there are many additional buttons: from nine digital ones to mute. Having a remote control makes it much easier to watch movies on an external display.

Power and PC connection

The machine connects to a computer via high-speed USB 2.0. The maximum data transfer rate theoretically reaches 480 Mbit / s and is really limited only by the speed of the built-in hard drive RMA430. The hard disk of the device is manufactured by Hitachi, as evidenced by the sticker on the rear panel.

The disk model is HTC42603 OG7AT00, as it is determined by the system. The speed of its work was not measured separately - everything here depends too much on the type of task being performed, although large files are copied at a speed of about 4-5 MB per second. Opening video files of several hundred megabytes takes 5-7 seconds, the speed of writing files when transferred via the bus or from the recording buffer also does not cause any complaints. The performance of the device in terms of working with audio and video applications can be assessed as sufficient and fully consistent with the expected. The PMA430 hard drive operates almost silently, the sound of the heads working can be heard during the initial load or when opening a large file. The RMA430 implements the proprietary ARClibrary file management system. Each time the machine is booted, the hard drive is scanned for new files, and once found, all information is indexed for easy retrieval. The scanning and indexing procedure takes just a few seconds and does not cause any inconvenience. The main advantage of the system is the ability to create folders, rename, transfer and edit files without using a personal computer.

The device is powered by a removable lithium-ion battery. Information about its capacity is not available. Due to the high energy consumption of the device and the corresponding battery capacity, charging is carried out from the mains using a charger; USB charging is not possible. The manufacturer's claimed video playback time is about 4 hours, audio - about 9.5 hours. The real figures are very close to the declared figures.

Video

The device provides video viewing on the built-in and external displays with a resolution of up to 704 x 480 pixels and a frequency of up to 30 frames per second. Most often, the image looks better on the built-in display - its greater compliance with the resolution of most video files affects it. Working with video is built on the same principle as in the AV series, playback is carried out in full screen mode or in a window, there is a scroll bar, indicators of elapsed and remaining time. Navigation inside the video file is carried out using a four-way key or a stylus, the first option is a little slower, but from the point of view of convenience, it seems to be more preferable.

Recording settings include geometric video format (16:9, 4:3, 2.35), video stream width (500-2500 kbps), TV format (PAL or NTSC), resolution (320 x 240 or 512 x 386 pixels) and audio sampling rate (32 or 48 kHz). If desired, you can separately adjust the brightness, contrast and color saturation. The results of recording from high-quality sources are at a high level and do not cause any complaints. All characteristics of AV-series recorders are kept in the device against the background of seriously expanded functionality, which is a significant plus. According to testers posted on the Web, hardware video encoding is carried out by the Micronas VPX3226 chip. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to open the case of the device and see for ourselves.

Audio

Archos products have a well-deserved reputation for sound quality, and audio playback is an integral feature of the PMA430. The device does not drop the name of the company: the sound is very worthy and by ear it completely coincides with that of the company's video devices. Music and movie soundtracks are reproduced with excellent quality over the entire frequency range, there are no extraneous noises, and distortions at maximum volume are not audible. The user has the ability to manually adjust the sound settings for five bands or select one of the five genre presets. Together, this makes it easy to pick up the sound according to personal preferences. The interface of the audio player is made taking into account the control of the stylus, a large display allows you to display a lot of information. During playback, you can switch repeat modes, adjust the equalizer and fully navigate through the contents of the disc. A multitasking operating system, worthy of a separate review, allows you to simultaneously listen to music and work in other applications without losing performance.

Audio is recorded from the built-in microphone. The recorded audio files are in WAV (PCM or ADPCM) format. The sampling frequency varies depending on the wishes of the user from 16 to 48 kHz. The built-in microphone has good sensitivity, it can be recommended for recording speech at a distance of up to 10 meters from the speaker.

Photo and text

The machine is equipped with applications for viewing JPEG , PNG, GIF and BMP image formats, as well as TXT text files and PDF documents. In some cases, DOC documents can be viewed without formatting. In the case of PDF, all embedded images are supported. The quality of the picture is determined by the overall level of the display and is at a high level. Full screen display and slideshow are supported.

If the device has a powerful processor and video subsystem, the idea of ​​giving it gaming functionality suggests itself. PMA430 is equipped with several pre-installed games and supports the Mophun platform. Pre-installed games are mostly logical and do not please with dynamic gameplay. But many Mophun games include elements of three-dimensional graphics and are much more dynamic. The RMA430 comes pre-installed with several demo versions of games, the full versions of which can be purchased on the manufacturer's website. The device's control scheme is well suited for games, the four-position key resembles a prefixed "cross". Unfortunately, you can only control the fingers of one hand, which does not allow you to use several functions at once. Game developers take this factor into account to the best of their ability, however, for example, one of the most interesting games, Rally Contest, is not very convenient to play due to the need to simultaneously drive a car and press the “accelerator pedal”.

Conclusions and impressions

When it comes to entertainment features, the Archos Personal Media Assistant is almost identical to its successful predecessors, the AV series recorders. A more powerful processor made it possible to increase the maximum video resolution and significantly expand the gaming functionality by adding 3D graphics. Tools for working with PDF-files allow you to comfortably read e-books of the appropriate format. The main changes affected the interface: the standard interface embodied in most Archos devices was replaced by the Linux Qtopia operating system. Its implementation on the Archos PMA430 will be discussed in the second part of the review, and the first part can be summarized with a look into the future. It is quite possible that the RMA430 is the first sign of a new class of devices that combines a capacious hard disk, the widest possibilities for working with audio and video, as well as the functions of a handheld computer. Perhaps in a few years, such devices will become companions of those who today use separate PDAs, personal audio players and stationary video recorders. Given the ability to work in a wireless network and the presence of a touch screen, with an increase in screen resolution, descendants of the PMA430 will be able to combine PDAs, Tablet PCs and micro-notebooks.

Archos PMA430 Specifications

Hard disk capacity: 30 GB BUS: USB 2.0 Video playback: MPEG-4 SP with MP3 or ADPCM stereo sound, close to DVD quality, up to 704x480 @ 30 fps. (MTSC), 720x576 @ 25 f/s (PAL), AVI. Video recording: MPEG-4 SP, MP3 audio track, resolution up to 512 x 384 pixels, frame rate up to 30 fps. Audio playback: MP3, WMA, WAV formats, bitrate 32-320 kbps, variable bitrate. Audio recording: built-in microphone or line-in WAV format (PCM/ADPCM) Image formats: JPEG, BMP Display: touchscreen, 320 x 240 pixel resolution, up to 262,000 colors, 3.5" diagonal Dimensions: 125 x 78 x 20 mm Weight: 280 g